Lucha Libre in Mexico City – Uncovering Mexican Wrestling!

Lucha Libre in Mexico City – Uncovering Mexican Wrestling!

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A visit to the Lucha Libre in Mexico City is an essential part of your visit to the capital, and is great fun – especially if you go in a group and have a few drinks beforehand to really get in the swing of it!  Here’s all you need to know about going to watch the incredible Mexican wrestling at the Arena de Mexico in Mexico City.

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Mural Showing Lucha Libre Mexico City
Mural Showing Luchadores Fighting Aliens, Mummies Werewolves!

Lucha Libre in Mexico City – A Bit of History

Literally translated as “Free Fighting”, Lucha Libre is similar to American WWF Wrestling and the like, but usually includes more high flying jumps & athletic moves than its American equivalent.  And of course, Lucha Libre is easily recognised with those all important lucha libre masks which hide the identity of the luchadores (fighters).

Lucha Libre dates back to 1863, but became more popular after the 1933 founding of the Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling Enterprise), then with the invention of television allowing the sport to reach a much larger following.

The most famous luchador was named El Santo (The Saint), who wore a silver mask & fought for nearly 5 decades.  He became a symbol of justice for Mexicans, and appeared in comics and films battling his rival Blue Demon, and other fighters as well as more unusual foes like zombies, vampires and werewolves!  Ever wondered where the film Nacho Libre got inspiration? Here it is folks!

Lucha Libre Mexico City - Lucha Libre Masks
Lucha Libre Masks For Sale Outside the Arena Mexico

Lucha Libre Masks

Not every luchador wears a mask, but for the majority, the mask hides their true identity and is a vital part of their luchador persona.  In the early days, the Mexican wrestling masks were more simplistic with different colours to distinguish the wrestler, but have gradually developed into more complex designs with some transforming the wearer into horned animals, gods and ancient heroes.  Sometimes high stakes fights include fighting for your opponent’s mask, and losing their lucha libre mask can mean the end of a luchador’s career – or at least the end of the persona they created.  Some fighters never remove their masks in public, and El Santo continued to wear his mask long after retirement, and was even buried wearing it.

My View of the Lucha Libre in Mexico City, Lucha Libre Mexico City
My View of the Lucha Libre in Mexico City

Going to Watch Lucha Libre in Mexico City

Don’t be under any illusion that this is a fight.  You are going to watch a show, but that isn’t to say this isn’t dangerous, as the luchadores (fighters) perform jumps, flips and throws that are carefully choregraphed.  Occasionally things do go wrong, there was a case in 2015 when the luchador known as El Hijo de Perro Aguayo tragically died after falling badly and suffering a brain injury during a fight in Tijuana.  So enjoy the show, and admire the luchadores – part athletes, part actors, and 100% entertainers, as they pretend to tear each other apart in, and around the wrestling arena.

As the fighters are announced, they make a dramatic entrance and come down the stairs to their theme tune, supported by the obligatory girls dancing (badly) in bikinis.  I loved to take sides depending on which song was my favourite, although the bad guys often had better rock songs as their theme!  The good guys also known as ‘Tecnicos’ are usually the favourites with the crowd, and the bad guys known as “Rudos” often dress all in black and completely disregard the rules, attacking the good guys 3 on 1, all the while receiving glorious boos from the eager spectators.

Lucha Libre Wrestling in Mexico City, Lucha Libre Mexico City
Luchador Bobby Z is Welcomed to the Ring- Lucha Libre Wrestling in Mexico City

Many Mexicans attend the fights to let off steam, and really get involved shouting various insults at the fighters they don’t like, or who aren’t playing fair.

According to our guide from Estación Mexico, the three most important phrases you will need for the night:

Cuuleerrrroooo (Culero) – coward or f*cking arsehole

Putooooohhooo (Puto) – literally, male prostitute

Chinga tu Madre – F*ck your mother

Apparently these are the favourite swearwords that are yelled at the fighters during the match.  I wouldn’t advise using these outside the Mexico City arena, but the 8 year old boy behind us was shouting these along with his father, so it seems acceptable here!  The video below gives a little taste of how the crowd gets involved with the acrobatic fights!

Tips for Attending Lucha Libre in Mexico City

In the Arena Mexico, Tuesdays and Fridays are the nights for Mexican wrestling.  You can buy Lucha Libre tickets in advance on ticketmaster, or just turn up to the Arena Mexico & buy tickets on the night.  If you want the best seats then buy them in advance, but if you’re happy just to get involved then a reasonable ticket on the raised section will cost around 100 pesos.

I would recommend going on a Friday night, when the Arena Mexico fills with stressed, usually drunk Mexicans who are up for a night of cathartic shouting and screaming at, and for, their favourite fighters.  The first time I went on a Tuesday, and we got seats closer to the front, as it was less busy, but the atmosphere was nowhere near as good as it was on Friday.

This is definitely an event best shared with friends!  Perhaps you can get together a group from your hostel, or join a tour like I did with Estacion Mexico.  The more the merrier as they say, and going for a few drinks beforehand helps combat any shyness with your newly learned vocabulary!

Lucha Libre in Mexico City, Mexican Wrestling
One of the Official Photos Shows the Skills of the Luchadores! credit: CNLL/Alexis Salazar

You are not allowed any cameras inside the Arena de Mexico, your bags are searched on entry, and they will be taken off you.  You will get it back after the show – you’re given a ticket to show in exchange.  Water bottles and other drinks and food are not allowed either, although mobile phones are fine.

Soft drinks, beer, and tons of Mexican snacks are available inside the arena.  Sellers patrol the aisles offering drinks, popcorn, toffee apples, nachos, crisps and more besides.

If you want that all-important lucha libre mask, sign up to an inclusive Lucha Libre tour with Estación Mexico who include a mask as part of your package.  Alternatively, there are plenty for sale just outside the arena to buy before or after the show.  I even saw little luchador wrestler dolls & mini wrestling rings for sale outside too!

Lucha Libre Mask, Lucha Libre Mexico City, Mexican Wrestling
Me & My New Favourite Outfit – My Lucha Libre Mask!

Thank you to Estación Mexico for hosting my tour to the Lucha Libre in Mexico City!  My tour was complimentary but the views are, as always, my own.  Click to find more information about the tour to Lucha Libre, which also includes a visit to a traditional pulque bar, and a Lucha Libre mask, as well as entrance to the show.

Cover image credit: CNLL/Alexis Salazar

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18 thoughts on “Lucha Libre in Mexico City – Uncovering Mexican Wrestling!

  1. I think I saw this on Fuller House?!?! Haha. What a cool experience while traveling. I never really go to ticketed events when I travel. In Sydney I meant to go to the Opera house for a performance, more than just to look at it, but never did. Good tips on what you can and can’t bring in. Always good to know. Never want a camera confiscated!!

    1. I love going to see performances or shows, luckily this happens every week so I had time to catch it. Uhh going to the opera house would be amazing, It hadn’t occurred to me there were actually shows there!!

  2. Wow, I’ve been hearing and watching wrestling way back when I was still young and I think it must be really fun to watch it in person, especially if you are sitting close to the ring. I didn’t know that Mexico has this kind of game. I’ll surely try to experience this when I get the chance.

  3. That sounds like quite a show! I remember as a kid being entertained by the early WWF antics here in the States, but this is so colorful! I definitely want to give a Lucha Libre show a go in Mexico! I’m sure Andy would love it, too — plus, I know he’d want one of those masks.

  4. Haha such a lovely wrestling match to watch – I love the curse words and the colorful masks. By the way, they suit you so much 🙂 Loving your new look ;p

  5. Sounds like a really fun way to experience the culture of Mexico City! I’ve always known Lucha Libre for their masks – I had no idea it was more of a show than a fight – wouldn’t have guessed!

    Thanks for the tip on heading for a better atmosphere on Friday nights. Definitely one of the attractions I want to take in when we have the chance to visit 🙂

  6. I love luchadores! I was first introduced to the culture from a cartoon called ¡Mucha Lucha! when I was a kid and was fascinated ever since. So interesting about the luchador who was buried in his mask! What a fun fact! I am going to Mexico in the fall so this is perfect, def want to check this out now.!

  7. Looks like you had fun! This was interesting. I’m not really into the WWF, so I probably wouldn’t be really into this either though I appreciate how much time and effort these guys have to put into the choreography and working out all of the actions. Interesting to see what you thought of the real thing as the only other info I’ve seen about it was on an episode of CSI I think. ^^

  8. I would love to attend a lucha libre match! It looks like so much fun and it’s such a deep-rooted part of Mexican traditions that it would be a sin not to go. You’re looking good in that mask – I think you’re ready for your first match. 😉

  9. How fun! I have been to Lucha Va Voom in Los Angeles but didn’t have time to attend an event in Mexico. I’ll have to put it on my list of priorities the next time I’m down south.

  10. I can imagine the level of testosterone in that arena!
    I have mixed feelings about attending a place like Lucha Libre. I just don’t like any form of violence. But I understand that the fighters want to be there … mixed feelings.

    1. Honestly it really didn’t seem like ‘real’ violence. I agree, I hate boxing, UFC and all that but this was much more a show than actual fighting. You could see the luchadores placing themselves in the right position to ‘catch’ their leaping opponents, to me it looked like much more of a team sport than a fight, but I see your point 🙂

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